Wednesday, September 5, 2012

F This Movie! - Side by Side

Patrick and JB discuss the new film-versus-digital documentary Side by Side and debate the future of celluloid and the merits of some Keanu Reeves narration.

Download this episode here. (29.1 MB)

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Also discussed this episode: The Intouchables, The Five-Year Engagement, V/H/S


  1. what IS your list of perfect films...and i look forward to the Twilight zone the movie...and i won't be watching this one. tx

    1. Let's start the PERFECT MOVIE list. Everyone chime in.

      We already mentioned Jaws.

      I'll add The Godfather.

    2. should we define the parameters of 'perfect'?
      IMHO it would be a film where i wouldn't change a hair...if it were to be 'lucased' the film could be changed but your enjoyment and appreciation wouldn't be improved.

    3. mmm...The Perfect List? I would add "The Wizard of Oz", "Seven Samurai", "Psycho", and "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"

    4. Blade Runner
      Close Encounters of the Third Kind
      Raiders of the Lost Ark
      2001: A Space Odyssey
      My Fair Lady
      The Fly

    5. I`d say the Special Edition from 1979 could be a case study on how a bad ending can totaly undermine an otherwise great movie.

      The definitive version for me is the 1998 cut.

    6. His Girl Friday
      Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

      (My Fair Lady needs a half hour trimmed)

  2. oh regarding digital versus film...not a question for me...i still shoot film cameras. so there

  3. For me I love the way a great movie looks on film (Fargo/There Will Be Blood) I also love the way a great movie looks on digital (Zodiac /Contagion). If its a great movie, I don't even think about the format it was this shot on.

    1. Agreed. I don't think the format has ever ruined a movie for me. I just love film and don't want to see it go away, especially when I don't think "the industry" has thought things all the way through.

    2. I don't think modern films look as good as they used to but I'm not sure that it's due to the medium it's shot in. I actually think that it's overindulgence in the colour correction stage of post production that has had the bigger impact. I miss real photography.

    3. I think you might be on to something. I hesitate to make any sweeping generalizations, because there are still a lot of movies that are really well photographed, but there does seem to be a shifting emphasis placed on things other than cinematography. I wonder if the reliance on CGI has lessened the importance.

      Then again, go back to the 1930s and a lot of movies just took a point-and-shoot approach, like filming a play. There were exceptions, of course. Maybe that's how it will always be.

  4. Not sure how valuable my comment will be on this topic. The industry is definitely going the way of digital. Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, big advocates of 35mm, will be retiring in the next ten years and with that, the format will probably go to. I love film, but I can see why those jumping on the digital bus are going that way. One would think that films would become cheaper to make then, but I can see it remaining the same. I do have to say that those of us who grew up making videos on HI-8 tapes are adjusting faster to digital technology than those directors who grew up making Super 8 films.
    Patrick, remember how long the VHS boom felt? Early 80's-Late 90's. It felt like an eternity, probably because I grew up during that time. But when the switch started happening with Blu-Ray, I remember thinking, "Another format? Already?"
    I still remember the day I threw "Spy Kids 3" out of my dvd player; not because it was bad (which it was). It was because Rodriguez stated on the commentary that a Hi-Def Format of DVD was coming and we would have to buy everything again. I looked around at my collection and immediately was furious.
    Having said that, my Blu-Ray collection is pretty sweet. LOL.

  5. Some films I consider perfect:
    Broadcast News, Blue Velvet, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Back to the Future, J.F.K., Amadeus...

  6. I dont get a sense of community from seeing a film at a cinema, unless we are talking about a midnight/first screening for a highly anticipated film. Im more inclined to get annoyed by others who are talking or what have you. The people I am inclined to go see movies with I will just as likely sit at home and watch a movie with them there.
    I dont interact with anyone at a cinema, they are strangers, why would I? But I do jump online and rant nonstop to various communities about what I have seen (for!).

    I wouldnt want to lose cinema because I like the big screen experience, and I always feel a little odd and pathetic if Im in a near empty cinema, so I want there to be other people there. But a social sense of community is what I like about internet sites like this, not why I go to the cinema. A cinema doesnt have to be everything to be considered worthwhile, it can be just where we go see movies on the big screen.

    1. I'm with you on a lot of this. The internet has allowed us to create new communities, but I don't know if it replaces the ones that already exist. I love being on here and talking about movies with people I consider friends, and I don't do that with people at the theater. But I also have crippling social anxiety, so that gets in the way.

      But all of my best movie going experiences have been shared with an audience of strangers, and I didn't need to know any of those people for the movie and the memory to be enhanced by all of us reacting and celebrating Terminator 2 or Independence Day together. I can still enjoy a movie by myself at home, but the thought that I'll never have another experience like that makes me sad.

    2. I think that may be a cultural difference too. In Australia people rarely cheer or clap at the end of a movie. It happens every now and again, but when it does people are more inclined to look around at whoever is doing it and think "whats up with that weirdo?"
      Its probably the remnants of colonisation that exisit, we sit back and think "jolly good" and thats it (not really but you get my drift).

  7. But to JBs request regarding film vs digital....Im almost embarrassed to say, but I dont care.

    Im 32, have many fond memories of going to the cinema in my childhood (very much seen as a place of wonder and special events), im constantly pestering my fiancée to go to the movies with me now (shes not a big movie goer) and I usually end up going to a movie once a month or so, often by myself. And I watch many many many many (too many) movies at home.
    But Im just not that fussed with how the movie is delivered to me. Ive never seen a comparison ("side by side" you might say) of film to digital so im not well versed in any quality differences. I guess if I had an opinion one way or the other I would generally side with whatever will give be the "better quality" image, which i assume is digital.
    Maybe if I was more educated on it I would have a stronger opinion.

    But using the music comparison, I am mainly MP3s these days, with still a large collection of CD that doesnt get updates often. Ive thrown out all my cassette tapes and i dont think ive ever owned a record. However, I love the "idea" of records, and I like going into shops and seeing large record collections sitting there, and every now and again the thought of buying a player pops into my head but i dont think I will ever really follow through with that. So while im all digital in practice, I would hate to see records disappear. I just dont put my money where my mouth is, which i know means im part of the problem rather than the cure.

    If all digital means the end of cinemas then I would be against that. But cinemas didnt disappear when TVs came along, or when VCRs appeared and i dont think they will go anywhere (as a whole) in the wake of the Netflix style delivery systems. SO i think cinemas are safe.

  8. I saw Side by Side a few weeks ago and was of the same opinion. It's an interesting movie but I completely forgot about it by the time I heard the show. I thought you two did a better job discussing what's interesting (to me) about film vs. digital on the show than Side by Side itself and this is probably one of your best shows.

    As for my opinion, Film Film Film, unless it's a pink film print, primarily due to the ramifications on exhibition and repretory theaters if it's completely removed. 70mm is the best presentation option I've ever seen and it makes me frustrated that the industry can't get behind THAT format. F 3D. Digital I'm fine with (I too saw Jaws in 4K and it was a knockout) for newer movies or if the care is put into the transfer for older movies like it was with Jaws.

    1. It's kind of an easy movie to forget, probably because it takes no position and reaches no conclusion. But it's a good conversation starter, which is how we used it.

      I still haven't seen a 4K presentation of anything, so I don't know what my reaction to it would be. Everyone seems pretty amazed by it. Maybe I'll think it's a totally acceptable substitute to film. I sure hope so, especially if it's the way things are going. Thanks, Adam!

  9. A lot of this is like when the industry went from Technicolor to Eastman stock. The excuses are all the same. Cheaper, lighter cameras, more versitile, faster turn around. The answers are also similar. Looks better, lasts longer, ect. In the end, the three strip technicolor was just too complicated and too expensive. Digital is cheaper and easier to work with, so it'll win.

    I don't want to see film leave theaters, because I want to see things in their original format. That was a big part of going for widescreen, which I started while still buying vhs tapes.

  10. I really enjoyed the podcast, it really sounds like a fascinating work that will generate a lot of conversation.

    Now a significant number of people who have the technology at their fingerprints to make a movie; and they can make a film on an iphone or edit through digital computer tools; isn't this democratization of technology a value of the younger generation? Shouldn't we expand the tent, and bring in new directors and visual artists?

    But to Patrick's point, the grander of seeing "2001" on 70mm must be a thrilling experience, and one that digital won't deliver justice too.

    I'd like to see the film before making a final decision though.

    1. I find myself even torn on this issue. The democratization of filmmaking that's resulted from new, cheap digital technology is great in theory, because it allows anyone to make a movie. On the flip side, it allows ANYONE to make a movie. Easily accessible recording software and YouTube have already ruined a lot of music. I fear for what will happen to movies.

      Ultimately, I know it's a good thing, because if we even get two great movies that we wouldn't have otherwise gotten, it's worth all the terrible, terrible stuff that's going to result from everyone calling him or herself a "filmmaker." I'm just being a grouch. And thanks for the nice words about the podcast!

  11. Guys, this episode was incredible. I love listening to you guys talk about a particular movie each week, but having such a meaty and important topic this week made for some really thought provoking listening. I didn't find it too esoteric at all, I found it to fascinating and compelling, and I've been thinking about it all day. For me, I believe in the sanctity of film. I am one of those vinyl enthusiasts that was mentioned in this episode for the same reasons that I am a film enthusiast. I have nothing against MP3s or CDs and will still download from iTunes and just bought a CD last week, but those experiences are nothing compared to the ritual and participatory nature of vinyl, or film. For example, with vinyl, you are hands on. You take it out of the sleeve, you clean the dust from it carefully, you place it on the turntable, and then you listen. You don't drive and talk on the phone or order from the McDonald's drive through as you listen. You are, in most cases, actively engaged in the consumption of the product. The same goes with film for me. The tangibility, the process, the steps necessary to participate, make it a more engaging and communal participatory experience. Again, there is nothing wrong with digital, but if we go to a strictly digital format, we lose the soul of what has made some of these works of art so special. I think everything has a time and place, and I think that if someone can only see a movie via their computer or their phone, so be it, but that should be an exception, not the rule. I suppose for films that are shot digitally, that's the artist's vision and therefore it is being presented as it was intended. But I do desperately hope that JB's prediction of 15 classic film movies being preserved while everything else is lost to digital will not come to pass. If a studio can spend millions of dollars marketing something like Bucky Larson, shouldn't it be a given that they will do their best to preserve the film heritage of the past and spend whatever comparably small amount necessary to make sure the movies in their catalog are there forever in the originally intended medium? There's nothing wrong with digital copies for computers or movies on iTunes as long as the ideal and intended means of viewing is preserved for posterity.

    In a way, this reminds me of the topic from several weeks back about how we're in an endless cycle of sequels and how we've got to be reaching some sort of a breaking point. Similarly, consumers are getting farther and farther away from the source of their media. We live in a world of file sharing, netflix instant, and free e-books on the internet, but yet there seems to be a growing groud swell of people who pay respect to the physical and the traditional. Vinyl records have made a huge comeback. Used bookstores have never gone away. Maybe film will see similar adulation in the years to come as we either start a new cycle that puts us closer in touch with a communal, traditional experience, or we will go even deeper into this trend of disposable entertainment in which the work of dozens and dozens of people which took years to create is viewed and forgotten instantly. It can't go that way, can it?

    And I debated whether or not to bring this up but Patrick's statements on the Slashfilmcast reminded me how much I detest that podcast for every reason that I love F This Movie. Thankfully I never have to worry about any of you guys complaining about the shark not looking real or one of a hundred superficial and shallow nitpicks that bog that show down. For a podcast purportedly about movies, they don't seem to enjoy them very much. I hope I've not said too much, I just wanted to say that you guys are crushing it in a podcast field where "the shark looks fake."

    1. Thanks, Heath. I'm nowhere near the music obsessive you are (I gave up on music a long time ago, because I am autistic), but so much of what you said about the rituals involved with the things we love being a part of what we love ring true. I don't download movies from iTunes or Amazon because I like having a physical object. I like putting everything on a shelf and taking it out when I want to watch it, not call it up on Netflix or click the mouse on my laptop. But that's me. And you, it sounds like.

      As JB always points out, this is all going away, because there are a lot of people -- and entire generations after us -- that could care less about physical media. It's now just the stuff of collectors and obsessives. Luckily, we all get it and can talk to each other about it. To most people, we sound nutty. It's another advantage of having a site like this. THIS IS A SAFE PLACE. NO ONE WILL HURT YOU HERE.

      I do still listen to Slashfilm, even if I rarely enjoy it. You're absolutely right about something I hadn't really heard articulated before -- for a podcast devoted to talking about movies, they rarely get excited about movies. Even the ones they like. The few times they do, that's when I'm engaged with the show the most -- when David Chen is obsessed with How to Train Your Dragon or picks War Horse as his favorite movie of the year, and there's no irony or casual indifference. It's an emotional response, and that gets forgotten so much when we talk about movies. It's FUN to be excited about something. We shouldn't be embarrassed about it, even if it's a movie that most people don't really like. I'm interest in any honest, genuine reaction, even if I don't agree with it. Those can be hard to come by in the world of internet criticism. At any rate, thanks for saying nice stuff about us. Your last line was pretty great, and I appreciate it.

  12. I think you're mischaracterizing our complaints. No one is "knocking" any of those movies. They are great movies. Some of our favorites. We just want to see more than eight of them in rotation.

  13. Oh, by the way, I'd like to nominate Casablanca and Bride of Frankenstein as perfect movies. I know the last one is slightly less widely regarded, but I think it's perfect.

  14. When "Side by Side" premired all I did was read the words 'narrated by Keanu Reeves' and I immediately crossed it off my viewing list. But now that this has its own podcast I guess I'll have to go see it this weekend (it's still playing at one theater in Gotham) so I can enjoy it to its fullest.

  15. Today's NY Times has a story on this very topic: .

  16. Just saw this at Lincoln Center's little 90-seat amphitheater that has a 152" plasma screen, and listened to the podcast on the way back home. Have to agree that Keanu's presence (the camera is on him as often as it's on his subjects) and voice are too distracting, but I also think that the filmmakers being interviewed open up to Keanu (particularly the Wachowski's) more and are more personable on-camera than they would be with an "invisible" or neutral interviewer. Some of these guys feel loose and comfortable enough to say "fuck" a lot (not Fincher though, he probably says it in his sleep ;-P) along with some truths that I don't think they would have been comfortable saying without a peer being the one talking to them. Still, Keanu Reeves is no Werner Herzog.

    As someone that works in the industry (I'm familiar with all those digital camera models/editing systems and actually have helped my former boss choose/trade/sell from his old SD cameras to the HD digital one's he switched to) I'm not comfortable with the idea that film is going away as a choice. Just recently rumors have surfaced that Fuji is about to cease the manufacturing of motion picture film, the latest blow to that option: .

    This weekend I went to see two movies in theaters. One was a one-time showing at Anthology Film Archives of the little-seen Rip Torn 1973 movie "Payday" in 35mm: . The other was an IMAX 3D limited engagement of Tsui Hark's latest wuxia epic, "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate": . Both are on the opposite ends of their respective spectrums technology/creative/genre-wise, but they both allowed their respective filmmakers to use them as tools to tell the stories they wanted to tell. As long as the options exist I'm content with letting Nolan have his film stock, Fincher his digital cameras, Lucas his digital distribution and, for those that want to, access to 35mm prints of films that were meant to be seen in that format by their makers' preference.

    The same way it'd be stupid to want to see "Singing in the Rain" in 3D it's insane to not watch "Adventures of Tintin" in 3D (the 2D option is a compromise given the limited HDTV penetration of 3D but that's clearly the format the directors intended for this particular movie) since their creators meant them to be seen as they were shot. I view all formats (film, digital, 3D, 70mm, SD camera, etc.) the same as long as those are the formats the filmmakers chose to express their ideas. I love 3D so Cameron, douchey as he might seem (and probably is), made some pretty valid points in the documentary.

    Great podcast. My personal "perfect" movies (as in 'I wouldn't change a thing') off the top of my head:

    -"Tokyo Story" (Ozu)
    -"The Usual Suspects" (Singer)
    -"Night of the Hunter" (Laughton)
    -"Ikiru" (Kurosawa)
    -"2001: A Space Odyssey" (Kubrick)
    -"Jules and Jim" (Truffaut)
    -"The Spirit of the Beehive" (Erice)
    -"Casablanca" (Curtiz)
    -"Re-Animator" (Gordon)
    -"Baraka" (Fricke)
    -"The Fly" (Cronenberg)
    -"Citizen Kane" (Welles)
    -"Flowing" (Naruse)
    -"North by Northwest" (Hitchcock)
    -"Broadcast News" (Brooks)
    -"Cria Cuervos" (Saura)
    -"The Man Who Would Be King" (Huston)
    -"The Pink Panther Strikes Again" (Edwards)
    -"Goodfellas" (Scorsese)
    -"Mon Oncle" (Tati)
    -"Pierrot le fou" (Godard)
    -"All the President's Men" (Redford)
    -"Forbidden Games" (Clément)
    -"The Godfather" (Coppola)
    -"Walkabout" (Roeg)
    -"Annie Hall" (Allen)
    -"Network" (Lumet).

  17. This Podcast really depressed me. As someone who is certainly in that younger generation, I feel partially responsible for the change, even though I really value the art and try to see movies in the theater as much as possible (as opposed to most other people in my school who are fine watching pirated movies on their laptops half paying attention stopping it every 5 minutes). Unfortunately, I don't get a lot of chances to see movies on film, but if I do get the opportunity I go.

    For me, film is not a social thing. I LOVE seeing movies in the theater, but I HATE audiences. I am 100% silent when watching movies and get annoyed when anyone makes noises or claps at the end. I like to sit in silence and think about/internalize movies when I'm finished.

  18. Listened to this episode today. Seems like a good topic that could be worth revisiting now that it's 4+ years later. I so rarely see an actual film projection nowadays, it's just not a factor I think about much. I have come to have zero expectation for viewing movies on film.